| Poetry

Death in a Fig

Peter Streckfus


We’ll eat figs, black ones, dried
while it rains outside, while it rains
through the doors and windows
There will be very little speaking
during the meal mostly tasting and forks
clinking, footsteps going from the table
to the kitchen for more. We’ll say

And when there’s some rice
on the mouth of a mouth-severed fig
we’ll say “wasp eggs”

2. And

In that place we will walk underneath
The leaves like cat tongues lobed
And big enough to cover the centers
Of our bodies were we to lose our modesty
But have it thrown back down on us
Figs will jewel the otherwise bare
Earth at our feet cool between our toes
We will walk reverently among them
Green and pink or ochre and salmon
Rodent-tasted dried fermented
Freshly-fallen their

Trees will claim every moment of life
their leaves nodding in the wind
Or praying in the heat
Gnats will touch us as we enter and until we leave


Peter Streckfus is the author of two poetry books: Errings, winner of Fordham University Press’s 2013 POL Editor’s Prize, and The Cuckoo, which won the Yale Series of Younger Poets competition in 2003. His poems appear in journals such as The Chicago Review, The New Republic, Seattle Review, and Slate. His awards include fellowships and grants from the Breadloaf Writers’ Conference, the Peter S. Reed Foundation, the University of Alabama, the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the American Academy in Rome where he is a Fellow in Literature. He lives in the Washington DC area with his wife, poet and translator Heather Green, and is on the faculty of the Creative Writing Program at George Mason University.

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